Man plugging ear with index finger because he suffers from tinnitus


Crackling in your ear? A condition known as tinnitus can cause you to hear buzzing, crackling, whooshing, or other noises in your ears. Here’s what you should know.

Ever hear crackling, buzzing, or thumping sounds that seem to come from nowhere? If you use hearing aids, it can mean that they need to be adjusted or aren’t correctly fitted. But those noises are probably coming from inside of your ears if you don’t have hearing aids.

Don’t worry there’s no need to stress. Even though we generally view our ears with respect to what we see externally, there’s more than meets the eye – or in this instance, the ear. Here are a few of the more common noises you may hear inside your ears, and what they might suggest is going on. The majority of these sounds are short-term and harmless but if you have tinnitus noises that cause pain or are chronic you should schedule a consultation with us.

What’s causing the snap, crackle, and pop in my ear?

It’s not Rice Krispies, that’s for sure. When the pressure in your ears changes, whether from going underwater, altitude, or just yawning, you could hear crackling or popping sounds. These sounds are caused by a tiny part of your ear called the eustachian tube. The crackling occurs when these mucus-lined passageways open, allowing air and fluid to circulate and equalize the pressure inside your ears.

It’s an automatic system, but sometimes, like if you are dealing with inflammation caused by allergies, a cold, or an ear infection, your eustachian tubes can literally get gummed up from the overabundance of mucus in your system (don’t forget, your ears, nose, and throat are all linked). There may be situations where a surgical procedure is required in more severe cases where decongestant sprays, chicken noodle soup, or antibiotics don’t help. You should schedule an appointment with us if you can’t find any relief from the constant ear pain and pressure.

What does it mean when I hear vibrations in my ear?

Sometimes, vibrations in the ear are an obvious indication of tinnitus. Technically, tinnitus is the medical name for when someone hears abnormal sounds, such as vibrations, in their ears that do not come from any outside sources. Most individuals will refer to it as a ringing in the ears and it manifests across the spectrum, from barely there to debilitating.

Is tinnitus causing this ringing in my ears?

There are also numerous reasons why you may hear these sounds if you wear hearing aids: the hearing aids aren’t sitting correctly within your ears, the volume is too high, or your batteries are getting low. But if you don’t use hearing aids and you’re hearing this kind of noise, it could also be caused by accumulated earwax.

Too much earwax is well known to cause itchiness and to make it more difficult to hear, as well as the possibility of an ear infection, but how can it generate sounds. If it’s touching your eardrum, it can actually hinder the eardrum’s ability to function, which is what produces the buzzing or ringing.

Chronic buzzing or ringing is a sign that you are coping with tinnitus. Even ringing from too much earwax counts as a kind of tinnitus. Bear in mind that tinnitus isn’t itself a disorder or disease, alternatively, it’s a symptom of something else going on with your health. While it could be as basic as earwax accumulation, tinnitus is also linked with conditions such as anxiety and depression. Let us help you diagnose and find some relief for your tinnitus symptoms by helping you understand what the root health condition may be.

What’s causing my ears to rumble?

This next symptom is less common than others, and if you can hear it, you’re the one causing the sound. Sometimes, if you have a really big yawn, you will hear a low rumble in your ears. Your body is attempting to soften sounds you make and the rumbling is your ears contracting little muscles in order to accomplish that. Some of these sounds include your own voice, chewing, and yawning.

Those sounds occur so near to your ears and so frequently that the noise level would be damaging without these muscles. One of these muscles, called the tensor tympani can, in extremely rare situations, be intentionally controlled to produce this rumbling. In other cases, people suffer from tympani muscle spasms caused by tonic tensor tympani syndrome, or TTTS. Individuals suffering from tinnitus or hyperacusis, which is a sensitivity to certain frequencies of sound, commonly experience TTTS.

What about a fluttering sound?

Have you ever felt a flutter in your arms or legs after a workout? Those flutters are typically the result of a muscle spasm, and it’s the same as the fluttering you hear in your ears. Middle ear myoclonus, also called MEM tinnitus, is a condition that impacts the aforementioned tensor tympani muscle and the stapedius muscle in your middle ear. Since this is a muscle condition, muscle relaxers and anticonvulsants are commonly used as a first-round treatment to bring the fluttering under control. If medications aren’t helpful, inner ear surgery can have varying degrees of success.

I hear a pumping or pulsing in my ears

If you occasionally feel like you’re hearing your heartbeat pulsing in your ears, you’re probably right. Your ears are very close to some major veins and arteries and if you just worked out, have high blood pressure, or are very nervous you will probably hear your own heartbeat.

This is known as pulsatile tinnitus, and unlike other types of tinnitus, it’s one that others can hear. If you come in for a consultation, we can listen in on your ears and we will be able to hear the pumping of your pulsatile tinnitus. While it’s totally normal to experience pulsatile tinnitus when your heart’s racing, it shouldn’t be something you have to live with on a daily basis.

If you do experience this pumping or pulsing every day, it’s probably a smart move to come in for a consultation. Like other forms of tinnitus, pulsatile tinnitus is a symptom of another condition rather than a disease, so it may indicate a health problem, such as high blood pressure, if it persists. Sometimes, pulsatile tinnitus is related back to a heart condition, so it’s important to talk about your heart with us. But if you just had a hard workout (or a good scare), you should stop hearing the pulsing or pumping as soon as your heart rate goes back to normal.

What’s this clicking sound?

As stated above, the Eustachian tube helps keep the pressure equal in your ears. Repeated clicking can often be heard when you get muscle spasms in the muscles close to the eustachian tubes (like in the roof of your mouth). Clicking can also take place when you swallow for the same reasons. This is a result of the opening and closing of the eustachian tubes. Some people describe hearing a clicking noise when their head drains of mucus. A clicking can, in rare instances point to a fracture of one of the small bones of the ears.

Does it mean I’m dealing with an infection if my ears are popping?

Ear infections sometimes cause swelling which can cause your ears to pop. If your ears are popping, it may be a sign of severe infection. You should make an appointment with us as soon as possible if you have any other symptoms, including ear pain, sudden loss of hearing, or fever. Sometimes, your ears will pop after an infection or cold as your head drains of mucus.

How can I stop my ears from crackling?

Do you believe that the crackling sound in your ears is tinnitus? Set up a consultation with us to talk about treatments available to you.

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References

https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/uf9680
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24289817/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23571302/

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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